In the spring of 2009, Wisconsin was witnessing a large increase in the abuse of pharmaceuticals. This was having a direct impact on law enforcement as our officers across the state were responding to pharmacy robberies, home invasions and thefts and burglaries all related to this new epidemic. In addition to this new crime wave, communities were being impacted through overdose hospitalizations and deaths. Even our outdoor enthusiasts and anglers were impacted with polluted waterways!
To address this, a coalition was formed and worked to develop and education and awareness campaign titled, Good Drugs Gone Bad. The program went on to be recognized both on a state and national level, and workshops have been presented to educators throughout the United States.
Since that time, the program has evolved into working on new and Emerging Drug Trends such as heroin and methamphetamine along with others that we typically do not think of such as caffeine powder, cough syrup and others.
In 2012, we all were struck by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our coalition members, being crime prevention officers, soon were inundated with requests from schools – both public and private – asking for assistance in making their schools harder targets for these senseless acts of violence.
Several programs came out nationally addressing how to respond to these events, however what they failed to cover was the before and after parts of an active threat event. We added seminars and workshops titled Active Threat Mitigation: Detect, Deter, Delay, Respond and Recover aimed at school leaders and school resource officers to better prepare and plan for such an event.
In 2015, members of the original coalition sat down to look at the dangerous trends that our youth are engaging with on social media. This led to a focus on raising the awareness of social media to parents and providing tools and resources to educators to pass along to our youth with the workshop Safety with Social Media: Our Youth ARE at Risk.
It is really humbling to see what started out as an idea on what to do about the abuse of pharmaceuticals has taken off like crazy and led to addressing other threats that face our schools and communities. We are really blessed to have had this opportunity to travel throughout Wisconsin and the United States working with those that mold our youth!